Cracks are starting to form within the pro-migration forces in Brussels as prominent MEPs do a 180 on their previous stances regarding illegal migration.
Imagine my surprise when I read that EPP President Manfred “Don’t build walls, but bridges” Weber recently proposed that we should start constructing barriers and work in unison after Italy was forced to declare a state of emergency due to the terrifying amount of people arriving through the Mediterranean.
While I personally welcome Mr. Weber’s change of heart, it’s too little, too late.
Maybe if he hadn’t spent all that time undermining any effort to mitigate the migration crisis alongside his liberal comrades, the situation wouldn’t look so dire now. Maybe if the rest of Europe had followed our lead and put in place strict border protection measures…
Let’s rewind a couple of years, back to 2015, when Europe was facing masses of illegal migrants moving through the Schengen borders. Hungary at the time was the first one to do something about it.
With our country’s borders touching several high-traffic migration routes, it was evident that serious measures had to be implemented to guarantee not only the safety of Hungarian citizens, but Europe as a whole.
The scheme proved to be controversial, however, as the liberal elites in Brussels were quick to counter Hungary’s stance, spewing harsher and harsher criticism in order to paint Hungarian border control efforts as inhumane and authoritarian.
Looking back, it is evident that instead of tackling what was a serious issue head-on, these elites opted for the “ostrich policy,” hoping the crisis would eventually die down.
At the time, Dimitris Avramopoulos, former EU Commissioner for Home Affairs and one of the key figures in the recent corruption scandal within the European left, pretty much stated that the Hungarian stance was “naive” and that “we must accept that migration, mobility and diversity are the new norm and adapt our policies accordingly.”
However, as illegal migration did not die down, but grew and evolved, Brussels bureaucrats still did not get the memo. They continued to block any support for member states that sought to implement stricter border control measures or build protective infrastructure.
One of the fervent advocates in the European Parliament against border protection was the same Manfred Weber who’s now calling for building walls. The hypocrisy!
Unfortunately, his hypocrisy comes at a price. Manfred Weber is among the main culprits for there being no general EU support for border protection measures.
Their insistence over the years “that the EU will not provide financial support for any barbed wire or border fences” has taken a devastating toll on all member states affected by illegal migration.
Prime Minister Viktor Orbán first requested in 2017 that the EU contribute to Hungary's border protection expenditure and foot half of the bill, to no avail. The Greeks fared no better, as they, too, had to fund the construction of a key defense line at the Balkans' entrance with their own money.
It’s clear that the situation is no longer sustainable. In the absence of an EU scheme to support countries on the edge of the Schengen Area, countries like Hungary have had to bear enormous costs to protect the whole of the European Union.
If even Mr. Weber can now acknowledge that walls, fences and protective infrastructure must be built, then, who knows, maybe this thinking will eventually spill over to other important Brussels offices, too.